People are always looking for games or activities to help them with their conflict resolution skills. This one is simple, but not always easy. It does not require a group or any special equipment.
Many times we find ourselves in a conflict and we have no idea what will help. It seems that all involved parties are so deeply entrenched in their point of view that any sort of common ground, progress, or movement seems impossible. More often than not, we are not even in the same conflict with the others.
In situations such as described we are usually conflicting over feelings. In The Mandt System we want to be able to see past the feelings and find the facts that we can discuss. We use the phrase “Affirm your feelings and choose your behaviors.” When we are in conflict over feelings, everyone is right and no one is wrong. Feelings are simply things we feel inside us. They are neither right nor wrong. They are also not a factual item that people can agree with or discuss.
Here is a simple way to practice distinguishing between facts and feelings. We are coming up on midterm elections here in the United States. Pay attention to any political ad and try to discern what is fact and what is feeling. A majority of ads are going to play to your emotions. “We can’t trust so and so.” “Don’t vote for so and so because they are a bad person.” “Vote for so and so because they are one of us.” Also notice the background, visuals, colors used in the advertisement. If the graphics are fast changing, contain fire or some sort of violent action, or music or sounds that are harsh or strident the ad creators are trying to play to your emotions. People don’t tend to like or feel comfortable with messages that look that way. Once we associate that ad with the so and so named in it, we are not supposed to like the person, entirely based on feelings, not facts. The flip side is an advertisement that looks calm, soothing, simple layout, and possibly even nice music, all things most people enjoy, to get us to like their so and so.
This is one of the reasons many people will either want to argue or avoid discussions concerning politics. If their emotions have been triggered, they will argue with anyone, fully convinced that they are right, because it is based on a feeling. If presented with facts that contradict their feeling, people will easily overlook the facts and ‘go with their gut.’
A conflict concerning facts can be worked through. A conflict concerning feelings is much more difficult. Let’s all work on developing our skills to affirm our feelings and choose our behaviors.
Dr.Dale Shannon – Director of Instructional Design